Sometimes, working at winning isn’t much fun in the casino

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The goal for the vast majority of players is to have fun. Casinos are for entertainment.

Sure, everyone prefers winning over losing. But I have to admit there are times I have lost a little and had more fun than times when I have won.

O.K., I’ve probably never hit a natural Royal and not had fun. But I did hit four deuces this past week for a nice win, but left the casino feeling like it was not as much fun as it should be. Just to be clear, when I say ‘Not fun,’ I am not talking about problem gambling – for me or in general.

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I played for about two hours and my session went about as up and down as it could go. I didn’t seem to have any real hot streaks. I would just hit a nice sized hand (five of a kind or a Wild Royal) every so often to bring me back to close to even after losing for a while. I was playing Deuces Wild Bonus Multi-Strike (the game with 4 or 5 levels). So a cold streak can be exceptionally painful. Then again, one good hand on a high level and you can come all the way back.

On this particular day, it just seemed like I couldn’t hit the hands when dealt a good starting hand. It seemed like I missed on 20 or 25 4-Card Straight Flushes. As this was a Deuces Wild machine, you have four to six chances to hit it usually. Thus, you should hit in maybe every seven to 10 tries.

It seemed like every time I was dealt a pair of Deuces, I would wind up with Three of a Kind or a Straight. I couldn’t seem to hit Four of a Kind, yet alone Five of a Kind or a Wild Royal. The end result was a session which seemed like my bankroll was going in just one direction.

Then I would hit that big five of a kind one one of the first two levels and at least bring my bankroll back up to only a small loss or occasionally into the black ever so slightly. But the pattern would begin again.

Now, some of the blame is on me here. Well, not really blame. I was playing using the right strategy. The issue was that I was struggling with the reality of the game I was playing.

Deuces can be streaky. Multi-Strike can be extremely streaky. Put them together and the type of session I was having really isn’t all that rare. Sure, a little luck and maybe I hit a few more of those Straight Flushes and instead of playing in the red most of the time, I have a nice positive session going. But, this particular game is the type in which a lot of the payback comes from a few of the right hands at the right time.

Today was that day. I had been dealt four or five 3 Deuces over the time I was playing and had not managed anything better than Quads. Now I was faced with being dealt 3 Deuces on the 4x line. It was also a Straight Flush.

The way my day had gone, do I really want to throw out my Straight Flush which pays 12 (times 4) and hope I can hit something bigger than Quads? Unless I hit Five of a Kind, a Wild Royal or the 4 Deuces, I come out worse off.

But how my day has gone is meaningless. What matters is the expected value of 4 Deuces, which is greater than the Straight Flush. I got my Deuce and went home a winner, but it was a grind.

Now, if the fifth card had been an Ace …

Correction: In my column last week, I stated that Spanish 21 uses a Pontoon deck of 48 cards. In fact, it uses a Spanish Deck of 48 cards. There is another game called Pontoon which also uses the Spanish Deck and as a result, the term Pontoon Deck has been used erroneously to refer to that deck.  

Thank you to Richard Lofink, the inventor of Spanish 21, for bringing this to my attention.

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About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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